I don’t know how the division between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ originally came about, but I know that by the Reformation period (16th century), there was a clear demarcation between the two. Priesthood was not just a vocation or calling, it was a job and everyone else (the ‘laity’) was considered inferior. The ‘priesthood of all believers’ (based on verses such as 1 Peter 2:9 TNIV) became one of the characteristics of the Protestant Reformation.

I studied the Reformation for ‘A’ level history, just as I was becoming a Christian. As we explored the religious, economic and political causes of this movement, I couldn’t help wondering how people could have been so blind as to restrict the One who doesn’t dwell in houses (Acts 7:48 TNIV) to religious buildings. Sacredness, I believe, is to be found everywhere (Rom 1:20 TNIV):

“And truly I reiterate…nothing’s small!
…Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” (‘Aurora Leigh’, Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

‘As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
(‘As Kingfishers Catch Fire’, Gerard Manley Hopkins)

God does not want to be kept in a ‘Sunday’ box, brought out once a week and polished nicely, only to be put back on a shelf and forgotten about for the rest of the week. Over the past thirty years, some of my most profound encounters with God have taken place outside of the ‘expected’. He is to be found in His creation, by the kitchen sink, whilst swimming in a pool, in the classroom, when stuck in a traffic jam on the M25. God is everywhere and in everything.
‘Everything’, Tim Hughes

The fact that I believe sacredness is to be found everywhere (which I believe because I find God appearing to people in all kinds of strange places in the Bible: in the burning bush, in the winepress, in the lions’ den, in the fiery furnace, in prison, on a remote island and so on, and because I have experienced this for myself!) gives a whole new meaning to the mundane. Mundane, as any reader of this blog will know, means:
1. Lacking interest or excitement; dull.
2. Of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.

So often, we feel our lives are not exciting or important because they are not ‘spiritual’ (or that they are not ‘spiritual’ because they don’t seem exciting or important!) Our jobs seem repetitive, tedious, unimportant and insignificant. Our lives feel equally worthless at times. But when we realise that God is in everything and that there is no such thing as a sacred/ secular divide, we find purpose and meaning even in the ordinary. One of the most moving sermons I’ve ever heard was from Mark on the subject of monotony. In that sermon, he quoted G. K. Chesterton:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Maybe this is what Jesus meant when He urged us to become like little children (Matt 18:3 TNIV). A child looks at the whole world with awe and wonder, sure that there are marvellous things out there to discover. Perhaps one of the most important things I’ve learnt over the years is to slough off the jaded weariness of adulthood and rediscover the sacred in the mundane. It’s really there, if you will only seek.